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Plumbing Test Balls vs. TestRite DWV Testing System

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Why Traditional DWV Plumbing Test Balls are a Thing of the Past 

Plumbers require the best products available to get the job done efficiently and safely. While drain, waste and vent testing, or DWV testing, has been around for decades, traditional methods to pressure test DWV plumbing systems aren’t up to par with today’s requirements. Outdated DWV fittings and inflatable plumbing test balls/bladders can put plumbers at risk and slow them down.

At HoldRite, we’ve created an innovative DWV testing system that includes drain test plugs, wedges and tees. Leave the limitations of outdated DWV pressure test methods behind for something better: TestRite.

History of DWV Plumbing Pressure Tests

Plumbing code requires new pipe installations to be drain, waste and vent tested to ensure water tightness, and for over 60 years, contractors have used inflatable test balls, or plumbing test balls, to perform this task.

There have been several materials and installation methods for DWV testing over the past 6,000 years. The first system was made of baked clay and used in Babylon around 4,000 BCE. Testing evolved to include wood logs followed by cast iron. Then, in the early 1950s, the inflatable test ball system was introduced.

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Plumbing Test Balls: What You Need to Know

To use the inflatable plumbing test ball system, you first have to insert and inflate the ball without accidentally rupturing it - which is more probable as your equipment ages. Next, add water into the upper piping system until it reaches the upper terminal of the system. After you check for escaping water and call your inspector to get the permit signed off, you deflate the test ball and repeat the whole process multiple times if you’re working on a multi-story building.

Drawbacks of Plumbing Test Balls

Inflatable test balls get the job done — stopping the flow of water so you can pressure test and check for leaks — but they aren’t the most efficient method, nor are they the safest.

Wasted Time

While the DWV testing process is tedious to begin with, it gets even more time consuming if there’s a leak. With inflatable test balls there is no way to only let some of the water out to fix the issue. You have to fully drain the pipes and start over. another job. Even if everything goes right, testing multiple floors with the plumbing test ball method requires constant draining and refilling of pipes.

Equipment Requirements

Plumbing ball systems require a host of tools, from air pumps to compressors to thread sealants — all of which add up. If the test ball leaks or fails, there’s no way repair it. You must buy a new one. Most contractors say it has a lifespan of about five uses maximum.

Safety Issues

One of the most significant downsides about the traditional plumbing ball testing method is that it can expose contractors to all of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Fatal Four” top causes of worker fatalities: falls, electrocution, struck by object and caught in/between.

  1. Falls: If the test ball ruptures, floors and installers get wet. When it’s deflated at the end of the testing process, water can spray out of the test port location, too. Both possibilities create a slip-and-fall hazard on the job, especially in the wintertime.
  2. Electrocution: Water spillage could mix with power cords on site, creating an electrocution hazard.
  3. Struck by object: Test balls are very sensitive to inflation pressures. This makes it easy for them to over-inflate and burst, which could cause flying shrapnel to hit an installer.
  4. Caught in/between: When a test ball deflates after the test is done, it can sometimes get sucked down the pipeline, which also puts a contractor at risk of getting their hand sucked into the pipe with of the force of rushing water.

Equipment Failures

Plumbing test balls often fail during the placement, inflation and removal of the device, whether it’s because of aging equipment, user error or faulty gauges. This could not only put you at risk but also the job site itself. If rupture happens in a multistory building and water spills onto floor, it can travel down to finished floors of the building, causing damage and potential mold.

TestRite: A Better DWV System

At HoldRite, we believe in putting plumbers’ needs first. The common pain points with plumbing test balls drove us to develop an updated DWV system to test pipe pressure and check for leaks safely and efficiently. The TestRite drain test plug, wedge, tee and spanner ring directly address the common challenges of working with inflatable test balls.

  • You can fill or drain water from the test location. No need to fully drain the pipe for retests or partial tests. Plus, a test plug on each floor allows for testing multiple stories in quick succession.
  • A triple seal protection design ensures a dry, safe environment.
  • You can use TestRite 5-10 times more than a plumbing ball. You can also replace the O-rings if damaged, to extend the life of the device.
  • It only requires one simple tool and fewer steps to complete the test, making the process 2-4 times faster.
  • It meets plumbing code.
  • Rated up to 50 ft of head pressure / 22 PSI / 5 floors
  • Compatible with PVC, ABS or cast iron piping systems with 2 in., 3 in., 4 in. and 6 in. piping solutions.

Explore the TestRite DWV Pressure Testing System

Our TestRite products include anything you would need for a plumbing pressure test. Browse drain test plugs, tees, fittings, valves, wedge seals, spanner rings or get the entire system for your specific pipe type.

Need more help? Chat through your project needs with one of our reps.  

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